Charlie and Ringo.

A moment of silence, please.

Rest in Peace, Charlie Watts.


Sitting and playing.

T

he next day. We needed coffee. Good coffee. It turned out that a coffee house was less than two short blocks from our hotel.

Even better were the people who worked there. The were friendly and energetic. One of them took us to this place, an empty club.

Apparently, it was fully functioning until a movie production company used it to make a James Brown biopic. When they tore the set down, they gutted the building.

Those are the kinds of stories that you won’t hear if you just pass through a town, keeping to yourself. I suppose you could look around and never say a word to anybody, but what would be the fun in that?

Anyway.

This little bar or club or cafe is now being rebuilt back, good as it ever was.

One of these days we’ll pass through Natchez again and see it for ourselves. But, not this year.

T

here is some post production technique to discuss.

As you know, I’m about feeling more than seeing.

The picture was easy to make, especially if I didn’t want to show you the guitar player beyond what I did.

The club felt smokey, with a little bit of mist drifting in and out. I could see people standing around listening to the band, drinking beer and hanging out.

But, the club was empty. There wasn’t a finished wall in sight.

So, I softened everything. I made the scene glow a little bit.

The rest is in my imagination. Or, yours.


Trumpet player.

I’m sorry that there is no text beyond these few words. I had a pretty well written piece that was complete. It was written, edited, the details were done. When I went to hit the schedule button, the button was light blue, not its normal color. It didn’t and wouldn’t work. Additionally, when I went to the draft file there was nothing saved.

I give up.

I’ll let you know when the new website is ready.


Trumpet player at rest.

T

his is another of those “found” pictures. I know where I made it. I have no idea why I did. Now that I see it, I like it.

Maybe , it’s incompetence.

Maybe I’m just as incompetent as the next guy. I’m starting to think that anything good that I’ve ever done was just luck.

Or, it come be two other issues. Maybe I just wasn’t meant for these times. Or, maybe people who make things just don’t think.

It started last night. I wan’t to “get” an app on my Apple smartphone. I found it. I was ready to download. But, first I had to hit this little bitty side tab twice. I tried every which way. I even just held my finger there and moved it up and down.

No joy.

I gave up. This stuff is supposed to make it easier, not harder.

Then, comes this computer that I’m working on as I write to you. First, it was mud slow. I rebooted it. That sped it up.

That was yesterday. Today, most of the apps wouldn’t open. Reboot again. Finally. Stuff works.

So. You get to look at a photograph.

T

here is a problem in this picture that I can’t seem to repair.

See that arm?

The color of the entire arm is the lightest brown, Look at the hand and the forearm. This guy must have been working on a car before he went to the second line.

I doubt that he was, but look at him.

I thought I had moved the color closer together in OnOne, But, when the picture arrived here, the darkened color returned.

My only theory is that whenWordpress did it’s final compression the mid tones were removed leaving only the dark tones.

This usually happens in light colors, but as I said on the other side, I wasn’t meant for these times.


The singer.

You can’t trust me.

Just when I start going in one direction, I turn south and head for another. Seriously, I’m mostly just opportunistic. My neighbor texted me and said, “you gotta hear this beautiful music.” So, I came out. She was right. The music was all gentle 1960s and 70s music, like something Marvin Gaye would sing.

The players were a young man and woman. You guessed it. This is the woman. I asked if I could take a few pictures. They had no problem with that. I did my thing while they did their thing. It was a wonderful experience. We worked together. They were delighted when I said they could have the pictures.

You know what I always say, “Without you I would have no picture.”

In addition to guitar, the young man also plays a little drums with Black Masking Indians. If we ever get to be on the street again, we’ll find each other at the next indian event.

Musical Miss has been saying to anyone who will listen, “I need to play music with other human beings.” I didn’t realize that I needed to work artistically with other human beings.

The Picture

This is just technical stuff. If you notice, the picture is nice and rich and full. That’s because I used my baby Leica. I am a little tired of the image quality that I get from my smartphone. Don’t get me wrong. The phone is fine as it is. But, this is better. It just is.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Enjoy all the macaroni and cheese… made the southern way.


Graphic Bucket List Picture

Changing attitudes, changing altitudes.

Sometimes I get bored with my own work. The trick is to keep making pictures. Eventually, the pictures evolve into something different. I get lucky sometimes and options appear while I’m in the field working.

That’s the case with this picture.

A brass band was playing in Woldenberg Park, which is a location in The French Quarter that is a few yards from the river. They were playing just beyond a bridge.

I started trying to make a graphic image. It didn’t work for most of the musicians. The overhead shape, just wasn’t there. It worked for the guy playing the tuba, which is really a sousaphone.

In the streets it’s a tuba. Call it a sousaphone and you’ll get a lot of blank stares, even from the guy playing it.

In many ways I made the picture of my dreams. I wish I could do that at neighborhood second lines. They don’t come close enough to buildings. There are a couple of second lines that cross a bridge. They are walking over it, not underneath it.

If we ever get back to the streets, I’ll get back out there. I’ll shoot a lot less while looking for angles from which to make unique pictures. I hope.

Stay safe. Enjoy every po’ boy.


Jazz Funeral for John Prine.

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child that’s grown old

If dreams were thunder
And lightning was desire
This old house woulda burnt down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

When I was a young girl
Well I had me a cowboy
He weren’t much to look at
Just a free ramblin’ man
But that was a long time
And no matter how I tried
Those years just flow by
Like a broken down dam

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear them there buzzin’
And I ain’t done nothin’ since I woke up today
But how the hell can a person
Go to work in the mornin’
And come home in the evenin’
And have nothin’ to say

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

RIP — John Prine 1946-2020


A giant mural.

They say it comes in threes.

Ronnie Virgets. Chef Leah Chase. And, now Mac Rabennack.

You might know him as Dr. John. The Night Tripper.

The good doctor passed today. His family said that he had a heart attack around day break. He’d been sick for a long time. I’m not sure with what. Doesn’t matter now. I know that he lost a lot of weight. That’s a hard thing to do in New Orleans. About 18 months ago he cancelled two shows at Tipitinas. That was the last of his scheduled performances. He spent that time at home, but on the Northshore.

Needless to say, New Orleans is reeling. We are sad. So sad. We haven’t even buried Ms. Leah yet. Her viewing is planned for Saturday, with the funeral on Monday. We are all invited to attend. We will.

Ronnie Virgets was a beloved author. His writing is the stuff of legends. I arrived on the scene a little too late to know it well. And, he wasn’t that well known out of the city. That’s too bad, because what little of his work that I did read caught the heart, soul and spirit of the place I call home.

But, Mac.

Oh man, oh man. He’s beloved everywhere. He started making his own albums in the late 60s. He was a session player until then. He had a rough start in New Orleans, doing things that would make tough guy rappers run home crying to their mamas. He’s been sober for longer than I have. Things change. We change.

How well known?

When you have a Beatle tweeting about his passing, you know how much he mattered to the music world. He played with just about all of music royalty, without ever adopting those trappings himself. Not only did he produce his own work, but he was an enthusiastic collaborator on other musicians projects.

Yes. I knew him. You’d see him in grocery stores or running errands. He was old school and gracious when he met a fan in the usual places. I photographed him once, formerly, at his home. I was paid for a half day. The shoot ran well over that. There weren’t any problems. We were telling stories and laughing so hard that tears were rolling from our eyes. Like they are as I write. I wish I was laughing now.

I wish that I could show you a picture from that take. Sometimes, a client will ask for an embargo until they have gotten their best use of an assigned set of pictures. I’ll call them tomorrow and ask if I can post one here. There shouldn’t be a problem.

For now, here’s his mural, painted in Central City. I almost like this better than the environmental portraits that I made at his home.  I made this picture on the way to some place else. A second line.

What can I say?

Desitively Bonaroo. The best of the breed. That he was.

Rest in Heaven, Mac. You meant a lot to us.

 


Working the street.

Busking.

A hard way to make a living. These days, in the music industry, distribution is king. Without that, you struggle with tours and merchandise sales. If you are working the street, you have none of that.

You have the music. You have a tip jar. And, maybe a few cheaply recorded CDs for sale.

Cheaply is an understatement. Just like digital photography, and auto photographers, everybody with a computer thinks that they can record and master music. Sure, there’s a few folks with passion and drive. For the most part, music recorded, mixed and mastered on a computer sounds like it. You really have to like the songs to listen to that poorly recorded sound.

Take a look at her. She’s got her violin. Her tip jar — well — wagon, and she’s waving a CD around. I admire her. That’s hard work.  It was cold that night. She’s wearing a glove on one hand. Yet, she’s smiling and chatting up anybody who’ll listen.

That’s what it takes.

Let’s bounce. Back to photography. You can have all the best gear. You can have all the learned technical skills. You can even make a good picture or two. Without that energy, passion and desire, you ain’t gonna make it.

Like a good musician, a photographer must woodshed. That means taking pictures when you aren’t traveling. When you aren’t getting paid. When you don’t feel like it. That’s how you get good. You work in all kinds of weather. You walk. You look. You make pictures. You work on them at home. You even keep the real losers so that you can learn from your mistakes.

Then, when you are traveling on your own. Or, when you have a paid assignment. The pictures come easily. They find you. You are ready. You’ve practiced. That’s one of the things “ten tips that will make you a great photographer,” never tell you. Work. Work. Work.

The picture. One of those French Quarter nights. Wandering around. Practicing. Looking for pictures. Not caring about showing them to anybody. Or, about money. Just working for the joy of it. Knowing me, I used a 16mm lens, set at f 4.0 and the shutter speed was maybe 1/30th of a second. Most is sharp, except for the CD she is waving around. That’s okay. Her face is sharp. That’s another thing. A picture like this one needs sharpness somewhere. It’s not like those whirly-burly things I photograph sometimes when everything is moving. That’s a whole other skill.

Questions? Please ask.